Saturday, July 22, 2017

Morning love interrupted by morning love...

Way TMI.  Sorry.

Yesterday, I decided to make a couple of music videos for Joni Mitchell songs I covered.  Early this morning, someone left me a comment saying they loved the video (but they didn't bother to like it and probably didn't view it).  And would I mind following them on Instagram?  I deleted the comment because it was spammy and I don't use Instagram, anyway.

That's how things started off this morning...  kind of on the wrong foot.  The dogs got up and went downstairs and I took the opportunity to snuggle with Bill, despite the fact that it's hot out right now and snuggling is not that comfortable.  We don't often get to be in the bed without the dogs.  They're like chaperones.

After a little snuggling, I said, "Hey Bill... you want to fuck me or what?"

Bill answered affirmatively.  It's been awhile, though, so we had to work up to it.  Just as we're about to commence fucking, our adorable beagle, Zane, decided to jump up on the bed.  He looked so cute and friendly as he came near us, sniffing.  It was as if he was saying, "Thank goodness I got here just in the nick of time!"

Undaunted, Bill continued to try to woo me, but Zane was insistent.  And then Arran showed up, and it was a party.

Bill rolled away.  The mood had obviously passed.  So I said, "Do you want to try this later?"

"Yeah.  Sorry." he responded.

"It's alright.  I'll wash the sheets so they'll be nice and clean and free of dog hair."

Yeah, this is my life.  It's full of blunt comments and unfortunate interruptions... and ridiculous scenarios.  I tend to get a lot of Murphy's Law types of things happening to me.  Like, I meet the guy of my dreams, but can't have kids with him the natural way because he got snipped for his ex wife.

I had parents who never divorced and were always home for me, but not really present. And my mom would say to my dad, things like "Bill (my dad was also a Bill), I've started my period and I need to be near a bathroom!" when he'd want to go somewhere.  But then she'd get annoyed with me for being overly blunt and wondering why I don't have any class.

Fortunately, I've always had a really good sense of humor.  I can usually laugh about these things.

Bill's younger daughter responded when Bill sent her an email letting her know that he was losing his company email address.  She wished him a belated happy birthday.  I was surprised she knew when it was.  She wanted to know if he got any good presents.  Bill told her that I gave him a really nice new Japanese Santoku knife.

I asked him if he added that I wasn't afraid he was going to gut me with the knife.  Of course he didn't do that.  I'm sure his daughter knows nothing about the knife drama between Bill and his ex.  I probably wrote about it here in an earlier post, but what the hell.  I have nothing better to do.

When Bill was in the Army, he had a special Bowie knife that was part of his uniform for when he was serving with the Arkansas National Guard.  It was a rather scary looking knife, but it was an official part of the uniform in those days.

When they were having severe marital problems and headed for divorce, Ex decided that the Bowie knife was scary.  She asked Bill to give it to her for safe keeping.  Not wanting his ex wife to be afraid of him, Bill willingly complied with her request to give him the knife.  She later showed it to her church friends as "proof" that Bill was a violent person.  She said she was afraid he was going to gut her like a deer.  This is from a woman who is capable and actually guilty of sexual assault.  Of course, her church buddies believed her.  Pretty soon, Bill was a pariah.

And then I come along and marry this "monster"... and even gift him with a beautiful new knife for his birthday.  I'm sure Bill was looking forward to our roll in the sack this morning, but we were rudely interrupted by our surrogate four legged kids.  Oh well.  Maybe we'll get around to it later.

But anyway... that kind of shit is the story of my life.  Glad I can laugh about it.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Don't tell mom you don't want to go on a mission...

especially if you're in Bryce Canyon with your TBM mom and stepfather.

LDS Living posted this "testimony" on their site.  They have since taken it down, thanks to the negative feedback.  Here's a link to the cache.

This guy, who has a Mormon mother and a Muslim father, decided he didn't want to be a missionary in Virginia.  He and his family were on a trip to Bryce Canyon and he told his stepfather he didn't want to go on the mission.  Stepdad made him tell his mom, who then promptly dumped his suitcases out of the family van and fucking left him there.

He spent the night and then next day, his grandfather came and talked to him.  Granddad asked him to try the mission and the guy decided to go.  Now he's bearing his testimony.  I guess he's happy to be a mishie now, but I think his mother's response sucks.  She basically forced him into it.

I can't believe this was the response from his mother.  Your child doesn't want to be a missionary?  Dump him in the wilderness.  She's lucky he's still speaking to her.

I see LDS Living has made a new version.  What a crock of shit.

Bill's last day at work...

Well, today is the day Bill stops working for the company that brought us back to Germany.  On Monday, he goes back to the same office, but will wear a new lanyard.  I'm hoping Bill enjoys the new company, which is larger, better known, and pays more money.

This morning, Bill was wearing a polo shirt he got a couple of months ago from his current (until 5:00pm) employer.  They also gave him a really nice windbreaker.  Lately, he's been wearing that shirt on Fridays because it's the only one he has that is short sleeved, has a collar, and isn't a dress shirt.  On Fridays, he's allowed to dress down.  With the new company, I think that will become a thing of the past.  I have heard everybody wears suits or at least ties.

We have to get new ID cards next week.  That's always a pleasure.

Bill enjoys morning coffee, news on the iPad, and Zane on his last day...

The new company also only pays once a month.  He'll get a larger paycheck, but he'll have to wait until the end of next month to get it.  So August may be a little leaner for us.  But in September, things will be pretty rosy because the new job includes a substantial raise.  That will be good, since I will be going to Scotland.  I hope Bill can come with me, but I have my doubts it'll work out that way.

Change is always hard.  Hopefully, this change will work out for the best.  But... at least we didn't have to move, right?  This time of year, Facebook always shows me my posts about moving.  I am happy to stay in one place for a few years while we figure out what to do next.

I suppose I could have written about O.J. Simpson getting paroled or Linkin Park's lead singer, Chester Bennington, committing suicide.  But, truth be told, I am not a fan of either.  Bill was actually upset about Chester's death.  He was especially upset when Chris Cornell killed himself.  It's not my genre of music.  I'd rather listen to Joni Mitchell circa 1971.  I did that yesterday so I could learn the song below.

This needs a little work... but it's worth it.  Maybe I'll do more today.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Phobias are not funny...

Have you ever met someone with whom you immediately clash?  I think that happened to me last night.  Despite my rather funny personality, I don't actually like parties very much.  I have a tendency to get carried away sometimes, especially when I'm in the company of certain types of people.  Not everyone can take my sense of humor and I don't enjoy offending people.  Sometimes I do, despite my best efforts.

Last year, the guy who hired Bill moved on to a new job in Hawaii.  He left behind a huge collection of euro coins, which he donated to everyone he worked with.  The coins were all counted and it came to the euro equivalent of about $800, which was used to pay for last night's gathering at a biergarten (and, in fact, not all of the money was spent).  It was a farewell dinner of sorts, since the company Bill has been working for lost its contract and many of the people who have been working with Bill are moving on to new jobs and/or locations.

We arrived too late to sit at the table that was already started, so we sat at a second table that had been reserved.  Soon we were joined by another couple, the male half of whom will continue to be Bill's co-worker because they were both hired by the new company that is taking over.  The first thing that happened was the guy came up, looked at me, and said "Who do you belong to?"

I answered that I am Bill's wife.  He then made some crack about my being the daughter of the other guy sitting across from me.  I'm not really sure what that was all about.  Bill had told me a bit about this guy being a bit obnoxious and full of himself, so I wasn't that surprised at his comment.  This guy also referred to me as "Jen", when I introduced myself as "Jenny".  That also happens to be a pet peeve of mine, when someone takes it upon themselves to change my name, especially when they've just met me.

I noticed his wife sitting in the corner with their son, whom I had met before.  He is a very bright kid for his age and already speaks German pretty well.  I could tell he is the apple of his mother's eye.  She was doting on him quite a bit.

As the evening wore on, Bill and I found ourselves talking about different subjects, including one of the Space A "hops" we took a few years ago.  Bill told everyone about how we landed in Georgia after an overseas flight from Germany.  We were really jet lagged.  He'd gone out to get us some dinner.  I would have been just fine with something from the nearby Wendy's, but Bill decided to go the extra mile.  He noticed a restaurant across the street and ordered take out.  He brought back steaks, not realizing that they had been smothered with mushrooms.

If you've been reading this blog, you may already know that I do not eat mushrooms.  In fact, I have a phobia of them.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth.

So anyway, I opened the carton he handed me and was immediately confronted by this piece of meat covered with 'shrooms.  They were totally grossing me out.  I was pretty exasperated because I was exhausted and hungry.  All I'd really wanted was a sandwich, and if Bill had just gotten something at Wendy's, I could have had a sandwich and gone to bed.  Instead, I was sitting there with what could have been a nice dinner that was rendered completely unappetizing due to the fungus.  Aside from that, I was annoyed that a restaurant would put mushrooms on a steak without advertising that they were going to do so.

Bill was telling this story and people were wondering why I didn't just scrape off the mushrooms.  And that's where the whole mushroom phobia story came in.  Phobias are, by nature, ridiculous, irrational, and perhaps even funny.  However, if you actually have a phobia, it's not really a laughing matter.

My whole life, I've been laughed at for having a fear of mushrooms.  When I was a kid, family members even chased me with them and yukked it up when I reacted with fear.  I can mostly laugh about it now... and the phobia is not nearly as bad as it used to be.  For instance, I no longer scream when I am confronted with mushrooms.  I don't like having them on my plate and I refuse to touch them or eat them, but I won't freak out or anything.  I still have a phobia, though.

I used to think I was the only person with this problem, but then I wrote an article about mycophobia (fear of mushrooms).  In my article, I even referenced an episode of The Montel Williams Show that was about phobias.  There was a woman on that show who was afraid of mushrooms and reacted the very same way I did when I was much younger.  She actually saw my article and sent me an email.  I got so many comments and emails from people who have unusual phobias and happened to read my article.  In fact, a quick YouTube search turns up a number of videos about mycophobia (mushroom phobia).

I was trying to explain this last night.  I will admit, a phobia of something weird like mushrooms sounds hilarious if you don't make an effort to understand what having a phobia is like.  I have been in some embarrassing and annoying situations due to this problem, but I can see why some people think it's funny.

Of course, Bill's co-worker thought my mushroom phobia was totally hilarious.  He was cracking jokes and hysterically laughing at me, as was his son.  I was trying to explain the origins of the phobia, which started when I was a little kid, and he was just having a knee slapper of a time laughing.  I had been drinking beer, so I was feeling my oats.  And I let loose with some really far out insults involving his testicles being covered with fungus.  I'm sure whatever I said was shocking and disgusting.  Sometimes, I have no filter, especially if I've been drinking.

I could tell the guy's wife was horrified and it looked like she was trying to shield her son from the insults springing forth from me.  I wasn't sure if she was horrified by my comments, her husband's comments, or the whole scene in general.  But anyway, they made a hasty retreat.  I'm sure they think I'm an asshole, now.  On the other hand, I thought the guy was being an asshole for outwardly laughing at me and lacking empathy.

Meh... I really think sometimes I should not go to these kinds of parties with Bill.  I'm sure a lot of his co-workers think I'm nuts.  On the plus side, we did talk to a really nice lady last night.  Too bad she and her husband (and their fabulous dog) will be leaving soon.  Also, I gave our waitress the stink eye because she told me that putting a wine bottle upside down in a galvanized bucket full of melted ice is "nasty".  That sounded a bit like bullshit to me, but what do I know?  She was happy when we left, though, because she was tipped handsomely.

Apparently, putting an empty wine bottle upside down in this bucket is "nasty"...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Preparing for the winter...

This morning's post is full of boring health related TMI that may not be suitable for all readers.  Proceed at your own risk.

Yesterday, I took the dogs to the vet.  It was time for Zane's monthly allergy shot and I wanted the vet to check out a couple of bumps that I want to have removed while he and Arran are having their teeth cleaned.  They both seriously need their teeth cleaned.  They are covered with tartar and it's gross.  They also have hideous breath.

I'm actually a little nervous about having the lumps taken off because they could be mast cell tumors.  One was tested last year and it came back a lipoma, but it's a lot bigger now.  The other is tiny, but it shrinks and swells, which is mast cell tumor behavior.  It's also on the side of his paw near his dewclaw, although it's in the skin and very small.  I worry that the vet won't get good margins and he'll end up sick.  Right now, Zane is in good spirits and I hate to mess that up for him.

The surgery won't be until August 10th because the vet who does the dentals is going on vacation for two weeks.  In Germany, vacations are no joke, especially in August.  Everybody gets one.  And most everybody gets their holidays, too.  I kind of like it like that, although sometimes it makes things inconvenient.  Hopefully, Zane will recover quickly, because a month after that, I am going to Scotland, with or without Bill.  Depends on if he can get the time off.

This morning, we're getting our heating oil for the winter delivered.  It's hard to imagine that in a few weeks, it'll be getting cold again.  Our landlords will be coming to assist.  Last time we lived here, we lived in a house that was fueled by gas.  Our landlord at that time would call the gas company and I would deal with the guy myself.  Invariably, the driver didn't speak English and, at that time, I knew no German.  This time, I understand more German and our landlords are retired.  They evidently have plenty of time on their hands and speak perfect English, too.

I think the landlords are getting the oil now because they got a deal.  They order the oil and when the bill comes, they send us a bill for our share.  We use a special form (called the VAT) to not have to pay German taxes on the oil.  I'm actually glad they are so conscientious about this because last time we lived here, we ran out of gas and had no hot water or heat for a few days in April.  April is still pretty chilly in Germany.  It was not fun taking bucket baths under those conditions.  We did at least have a masonry heater, though, which we don't have in this house.

Speaking of healthy environments, this morning, I saw this old PSA on my Facebook memories...

This PSA cracks me up!   

It almost makes the idea of having your colon scoped sound like fun.  I'd love to have a couple of doctors taking care of me who are that funny and thorough... especially if I was drugged into oblivion.

The nasty cough I've had is slowly dying down, just in time for a visit from Auntie Flow.  And this morning, just as one last insult, I had a coughing fit that led to throwing up my coffee.  I'm sure I don't have whooping cough or anything like that, but for some reason, I sometimes puke when I cough.  I used to never vomit, but now it happens relatively often... especially when I eat overripe bananas or when I cough too hard.  It always seems to happen early in the morning.  Too bad the puking doesn't lead to weight loss.

Anyway... hopefully I'll think of something of substance to write about later.  For now, I guess I'll get dressed and walk the dogs.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Breastmilk in the brownie batter...

This morning, I happened to see a post by Sanctimommy that made me gasp with surprise and amusement.  It was from a mom who had made brownies for her child's school bake sale.  She found herself short of both milk and the time to get to the store to buy more.  So she whipped out a breast and used breastmilk for her recipe, adding that she thought some of the kids could use the nutrition.  Other moms found out about it and were very upset.  The Sanctimommy, who felt she was doing some of the kids a favor by sharing her breastmilk with them, didn't know what to do.

I shared that post on my own page and immediately got two diametrically opposed opinions.  One lady agreed with me when I posted that it was a stupid thing to do.  Another lady disagreed and felt the moms were blowing things out of proportion.  She pointed out that cooking the brownies would likely kill any organisms that might make someone sick.  And, yes, granted this was milk from a human being.  One could argue that milk from a fellow human is even more appropriate for kids than is cow's milk.

I understand that cooking things destroys germs and some moms use breastmilk in recipes.  On the other hand, I still think it's wrong to use breastmilk in a recipe intended for a bake sale.  The main reason I think it's wrong is exactly because of the reaction the woman got when people found out she did it.  Not every parent knows about food safety, and so the idea of another mother's milk in a donated baked good intended for a bake sale might cause them to worry.  It's one thing to make your child cereal using your breastmilk.  It's YOUR kid and it's YOUR breastmilk and you know where you've been and what you've consumed.  It's quite another to serve someone food made with your bodily fluids without their knowledge or permission.

Heat does kill germs, but there are some serious diseases that can be passed through breastmilk.  HIV is one infection that can be passed through mother's milk.  Even though the risk of passing a disease to someone through cooked breastmilk is very small, the risk (or even just the perceived risk) is not quite non-existent.  In the United States, if someone uses commercially prepared milk, we know it's been pasteurized.  But raw milk from a human breast could come from anywhere and there is no gauging the quality or its safety.  On the other hand, I suppose the same could be said about any bake sale good.  There's always a risk of some sort.

I was curious about bake sale rules and if they exist, so I did a search.  Here's a list of rules made by one health department.   As you can see in that list, any product made with raw milk is prohibited.  I would guess that would include breastmilk.  Granted, here in Europe, raw milk is widely available and people eat cheese made with raw milk all the time.  But in the United States, it's not allowed.  And even if it was allowed, I can't imagine that most parents in the average public school would be alright with such a "crunchy" idea.  In many places, you can't even send your kid to school with a PBJ anymore, so why would brownies made with breastmilk be okay?

If I were to make brownies laced with whisky for a school bake sale, I would expect a lot of parents would be upset, even though the amount of alcohol in such a recipe is negligible and would likely burn off during the cooking process.  Many parents don't want alcohol near their kids, even if it's just used for flavoring.  And some might privately be okay with it, but simply don't want to give people the wrong idea about their parenting skills.  People will call the authorities at the drop of a hat nowadays, so many parents don't want to appear to be negligent.

A few years ago, there was a well-publicized case of a mom getting arrested because she was breastfeeding her baby in public after having downed a couple of glasses of beer.  Even though scientific and medical evidence shows that the baby she was feeding was likely in little danger, the perception was that she was harming the child.  Many people are extremely ignorant about these things.  To me, it simply wouldn't be worth the risk to use breastmilk in a recipe intended for public consumption, even if I could turn it into a "teaching" moment.  

We live in a world where kids can't even play alone outside without the threat of someone calling CPS.  Who in their right mind would even risk using breastmilk in a recipe for a kids' bake sale?  You're just asking for parents to panic.  Shit... I wonder how the other parents even found out about the breastmilk?  If you were to use it in a recipe, why would you tell anyone else?

Sadly, the discussion on my Facebook page went a bit south when one of the posters left a snarky comment about how Americans don't understand breastmilk.  I understand and support breastfeeding wholeheartedly.  I even support moms who donate breastmilk.  But to me, it's simply common sense not to use a product from your boobs in recipes intended for general public consumption.  It's just not worth the reaction other people are going to have.  And that conclusion doesn't make me ignorant, out of touch, unsupportive, or hysterical.  You want breastmilk in your baked goods?  Make them for your own family.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Oh my God, you're a bitch!

I was just reading about professional political shithead Ann Coulter, who has made a career out of being a nasty person.  She's been engaged in a Twitter storm with Delta Airlines because she booked a seat with extra leg room and was forced to move.

According to the Washington Post, Ann Coulter had zero sympathy for Dr. David Dao, who was famously dragged kicking and screaming off a United flight back in April.  Dao's injuries were quite severe; he required surgery to recover.  But Ms. Coulter wrote, "Sorry about the dragging, but a convicted pill-mill doctor should be deported."

Now that she's been mistreated by an airline, Coulter feels quite free to vent.  Coulter was reportedly moved to a different seat in the same row, presumably an identical one with the extra leg room Coulter had booked.  But that's not enough for the pro-Trump pundit.  She's disparaged Delta Airlines, its employees, and the woman who was seated in the place Coulter claims she'd booked.  According to a witness, Coulter was moved from an aisle seat to a window.

I will go on record to state that if airlines offer seat selections and people have paid money to pre-book a seat, that request should be honored unless there is a very good reason not to... one that involves safety or someone's health, for instance.  However, Ann Coulter's behavior post flight has been dreadful and hypocritical.  Flying generally sucks for everyone, but acting like a toddler having a tantrum does not make things better for anyone.

For its part, Delta tweeted that it would refund Ms. Coulter's money for the seat she booked and did not get.  And it also added that Ms. Coulter's abusive insults about Delta's employees and other passengers is "unacceptable and unnecessary."

For the life of me, I do not understand how a person like Ann Coulter makes a living doing what she does.  She is truly vile.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What graffiti artists think...

I just wrote about yesterday's trip to Stuttgart.  In the interest of keeping my travel blog somewhat PG rated, I didn't include a few photos I took yesterday afternoon.  They were in our local train station.

Lovely cursive writing in English...

Pac Man...

And someone's eloquent thoughts about the G20...

It's always interesting to read what the people think when it's sprayed all over public property.  There's a lot of graffiti in Stuttgart.  Really, I've seen it all over Europe.  I don't like the idea of people defacing buildings and such, but the statements they leave are sometimes interesting.  Like, for instance, the Pac Man motif at the Herrenberg system.  It kind of makes one wonder how old the person was that made it.  Pac Man was a thing about 35 years ago, but I'd be surprised if today's young folks play it.  The artist seems to be sharing a graphic story about cops trying to catch the vandals.

Not long ago, someone painted the word "penis" on the backs of signs over A8.  It was on the opposite side of the road, so those heading east toward Munich could see the vandalism.  It finally got covered over after a few weeks, but I'm sure it will be back.  Those sneaky artists are always lurking, waiting to spread their messages far and wide.  This has probably been going on for as long as spray paint has existed.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Belinda Carlisle's funny PSA from the 80s...

If you were around in the 80s, you might remember Belinda Carlisle, who was the lead singer of The Go-Go's.  Belinda Carlisle rather famously indulged in drugs back in those days.  Later, she wrote a tell all book about her life that I read and reviewed.

Anyway, yesterday I happened to stumble across this chirpy anti drug PSA she did back in the day...

I have to wonder if Belinda's comments about "looking frightening" and "being sick of drugs" were enough to convince people not to use drugs...

I also wonder about that get up she's wearing.  Who wears that to a fucking beach?  And was she high when she made this PSA?  And was it court ordered or something?  Because she's really not convincing at all.  Belinda Carlisle was well known for her love of cocaine back in the day.  She even writes about it in her memoir, Lips Unsealed.  According to this article from 2011, Carlisle had a 30 year habit and wasn't actually "clean" until 2004.  So it's entirely possible that she was loaded when she made this PSA.

Actually, the second article I linked is pretty interesting because it comes with a video that shows Carlisle pretty sober and intelligent.  She's totally different in that video compared to the PSA I posted above.  

I think this video is worth a view.  She brings up the experience she had in which she says she looked frightening.  

I love watching old PSAs from the 80s... especially the anti-drug ones done by people who clearly were still using drugs.  I remember when Judd Nelson and Burt Reynolds did an anti drug film.  Besides the fact that they were an odd pairing, I know Reynolds continued his love affair with weed for many years beyond the making of that film.  I am less sure about Judd Nelson, although my suspicions are that he continued to enjoy drugs.

The 70s and 80s were a fun time to be growing up.  I miss those days and kooky PSAs by people like Belinda Carlisle.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sad story plus wretched writing equals missed opportunities...

Ever since I started reading it, I have been itching to write my review of Social Taboo: A Male Victim of Domestic Violence Speaks.  I finally finished reading Richard Cassalata's 2016 book about twenty minutes ago after struggling with it and thinking it would never end.  I didn't realize it when I started reading this book, but Social Taboo is 578 painful pages in length.  I would guess at least 150 of those pages could have been omitted.  Add in the fact that Mr. Cassalata apparently never had this book edited or even read by a literate friend before he published it, and you have a recipe for a former English major's nightmare.  

As you might guess from this book's title, Social Taboo is a non-fiction account of a man's experience with an abusive woman.  The author, who refers to himself as Rick, writes that in early January 2011, he had been looking online for a relationship with a woman.  Rick is a divorced father of three boys who lives in Arizona.  He has not had much luck with online personal ads.  Evidently, many of the responses he gets are porn solicitations.

One night, Rick gets an email from an attractive woman named Amy.  Amy lives in Eloy, which is evidently a crime infested, yet very rural, area.  She's a teacher in her mid to late 30s at the time, having earned teaching certifications in Ohio and Arizona.  She invites Rick over and asks him to bring with him a bottle of Grey Goose vodka.

Although Rick is not much of a drinker, he complies with Amy's request and drives out to Eloy.  He and Amy hit it off immediately, although Rick is slightly alarmed when Amy pours herself a generous measure of vodka mixed with cranberry juice.  Although he says nothing to her at the time, it soon becomes apparent that Amy has a serious drinking problem.    

Rick, who is in the midst of earning his teaching credentials, finds that he and Amy are able to talk shop.  However, besides talking about their work, Amy also talks about her past relationships.  If you know anything about women with cluster B personality disorders, you know that there are already a couple of red flags popping up during this couple's first meeting.  

Rick describes Amy as witty, charming, sweet, friendly, and very attractive.  He writes that they "clicked" from the get go.  And while it may not be the smartest thing for him to have done, during that first date, Rick and Amy are consummating their brand new relationship between the sheets on Amy's bed.  Unfortunately, Amy neglects to tell Rick that she has contracted oral herpes, which Rick incorrectly identifies as a sexually transmitted disease.  Yes, it can be transmitted sexually, but what Rick is referring to is the same virus that causes cold sores.  In truth, most people have been exposed to the virus that causes oral herpes by the time they are adults.

Things move quickly, as they often do in relationships with women who have cluster B personality disorders.  Pretty soon, Rick and Amy are inseparable.  Rick gets approval to work with Amy-- she actually becomes his supervisor as he's picking up training hours at Amy's school.  Yet another red flag is raised, but Rick is apparently oblivious to it.  Soon, they're talking about marriage and it's not long before Rick moves in to Amy's home.  When he's living with her, Rick discovers that Amy's drinking problem is a lot more serious than he'd first realized.  Aside from that, she is extremely possessive and resents it when Rick plays racquetball with his buddies on Saturday mornings.  He comes back from the court to find Amy completely obliterated after she's consumed way too much Grey Goose vodka.

Rick soon finds himself deeply entrenched in his relationship with Amy, who seems to be having a hard time letting go of her ex husband, Jim.  She claims that they need to see each other because they are filing their taxes.  Rick isn't happy about Amy's continued visits with her ex, but he tolerates it until it becomes clear that Amy is doing a lot more than discussing taxes with Jim.  But when Rick confronts Amy, she goes batshit crazy.  It's not long before Amy enlists local law enforcement in her bid to control Rick.  She even talks him into handing over his paychecks to her.  Again... a classic red flag of an abuser.  

It turns out that Amy is also kinky.  She has a collection of sex toys and wants Rick to use them on her and be her "Dom", that is, sexual dominant.  She uses sex to make up with Rick after their epic fights.  All I can say is that Amy must have been one hell of a lover.  Rick falls for her tricks over and over again, just like Charlie Brown does when Lucy Van Pelt offers to hold the football for him.  I don't actually have anything against kink.  However, it's pretty clear that Amy uses kink as a means to control her men.

Throughout the book, Rick refers to the interesting array of jobs he's held in the helping profession.  He claims to have been a law enforcement officer, a social worker, and a teacher, both at the college and school levels.  However, Rick doesn't really give readers a full accounting of his academic pedigree.  This was one of my many complaints about Social Taboo.  As I was reading Rick's story, he would mention his academic background, but in vague terms.  I myself have master's degrees in social work and public health, so he caught my attention when he wrote about his sociology degree, but then referred to himself as a "former social worker".  

First off, social work and sociology are not the same thing.  Secondly, while Rick may have worked for child protective services at one point, that would not make him a social worker.  Social work is not synonymous with child welfare work.  Moreover, having earned my degree in social work, I know what goes into getting that education.  I was perplexed by Rick's vast array of careers.  He's supposedly only 35 years old at one point in this book.  It takes time and money to become a qualified social worker or teacher, particularly at the college level.  And yet, Rick has apparently been a social worker, a teacher, a professor, and a law enforcement officer.  I question how much experience he would have had in those fields and how he managed to earn the appropriate credentials.  I'm not saying he's outright lying, but it would have been helpful if he had explained that a bit more.

My next complaint about this book is that it is way too long.  I see an earlier paperback version of this book comes in at over 700 pages.  This edition, which has a different title, is almost 600 pages.  A lot of those pages should have been edited out because much of it is repetitive minutiae.  At one point in the book, I was sure I had to be at least halfway through it.  I was dismayed to see I had only read about 25%.  I eventually found myself skimming because it was very repetitive and taking much too long to finish.

And finally, my biggest complaint about this book is the shitty writing.  Cassalata has a rather conversational style that could be engaging if not for all of the typographical errors, awkward sentence constructions, dangling participles, and wrong word choices.  Seriously, there were some errors that were almost laughable.  For the sake of this review, I'm going to find a few of the more memorable ones.

"After leaving my house, I purchased a big cup of coffee at a nearby convince store."

"They're just did not seem to be a happy medium in any decision concerning her in weeks."

"Ferrous, I walked out of the classroom without acknowledging Amy's existence."

"I fucking hate you for that... you sun of a bitch!"

"Since you are freeloading off me and living in my house you will respect me you sorry sun of a bitch."

"Arriving home, Amy was gone and it was a welcome relief."

"Noticing the sun setting we walked out of the restaurant and Amy held my hand out the door."

The book is absolutely saturated with mistakes like the ones I've posted.  When you have to get through 600 pages, it becomes very tiresome to run across so many errors.  More than once, I contemplated giving up on the book.  I also had to fight the urge to rant about it before I managed to finish.  Imagine... this man, like his psycho ex, Amy, are teachers.  No wonder so many people homeschool.

Don't get me wrong.  I think it's good that Mr. Cassalata was willing to share his story.  I wish more male victims of relationship abuse would speak out; that way, people like Bill's ex wife might brought to justice for the havoc they wreak.  I just think that if you're going to go to the trouble of writing a book about your experiences, particularly the very personal experiences the author writes of, you should make sure the writing is of good quality.  It's asking a lot to ask readers to wade through almost 600 pages of explicit writing about abuse.  The least that author could do is make the writing worth the effort and as easy as possible for the reader-- particularly given that readers often have paid for the book.  I see Cassalata's paperback version is selling for about $25.  I would be pissed if I'd spent $25 on this book as it's written.

Anyway, make no mistake about it.  Rick Cassalata got himself entangled with a psycho.  I empathize with him.  A lot of what he wrote about Amy is eerily similar to stories I've heard about Bill's ex wife, right down to the weird sex, financial abuse, and irrational rages.  Bill was fortunate in that his ex wife had a fear of government interference, so she never called the police on him.  However, she did do a lot of the other things Amy did... and, oddly enough, Bill's ex used to live in Arizona.  I hope things are better for Rick now.  I see at the end of his book, he's got links to men's rights organizations.  I, personally, have no issue with that, but I would imagine that if a lot of women read this book, they might.

For the love of God, get a passport.

This week, I mentioned that Bill and one of my cousins have been arguing on Facebook.  It's actually kind of funny, because Bill rarely posts on Facebook and almost never gets involved in debates.  When he does, he's very conscious of other people's online spaces and uncomfortable with contentious exchanges.  Bill is a considerate, thoughtful person who cares about other people and their feelings.  Unfortunately, not everyone is like that.

I unfriended my cousin the other day because he's been annoying me on a regular basis for weeks.  It's like a sport to him.  He'd find a controversial topic on my page and leave an obnoxious comment.  When he would finally drive me to the point of writing an annoyed response, he'd leave me a smarmy comment about "loving and respecting" me.  But then he'd invariably come back to my Facebook page and spew more of his bullshit, trying to goad me into debates and then acting like a know-it-all bully.  He loves to argue politics and is very rigid in what he believes.  I find his beliefs very narrow-minded, myopic, and frankly, often offensive.  Moreover, chatting with him reminds me of trying to chat with my dad after he'd been drinking all night.  It's pointless and ultimately leads to heartbreak.

When I read about my cousin's desire to help crowdfund Trump's stupid border wall, that was when I'd reached my limit.  I have a feeling that Bill is about to reach his limit, too.  

My cousin-- I'll call him Timmy (after the South Park character)-- has more or less said that he thinks allowing Muslims into the United States will eventually lead to them taking over and introducing Sharia Law.  He seems to agree fully with Trump's desire to ban travelers from certain Muslim countries from coming into the United States.  He thinks it will keep us "safe" from terrorists.

I will admit, when it comes to hyper-controlling religions like Islam, I am myself a little leery.  For instance, I didn't vote for Mitt Romney, in part, because he's LDS and I know something about Mormonism and how it often spreads like kudzu.  Mormons have a history of getting into government positions and making laws that suit their collective worldview.  Since Mormons have an appearance of being "normal" to those who don't know anything about their beliefs, they have a fairly easy time of getting into leadership positions and passing laws based on their religious or moral beliefs that affect everyone.  One only has to look at the state of Utah to see what I mean.

I am only using Mormons as an example of what happens with politics and religion mix.  Naturally, other religious groups also use government offices to promote their religious beliefs.  The Southern Baptists and Evangelicals do the same thing in the Deep South.  That's why I also would not have voted for Mike Huckabee when he was running for office.

Here in Germany, I have personally witnessed an influx of Muslim refugees from Syria.  Many days, when I'm out and about, I see the fully veiled women shopping in the grocery stores.  I know that many Germans fear that the refugees might try to change Germany rather than simply assimilating.  That's not necessarily an unfounded fear.  For decades, there have been many Turks living here.  They were brought in after World War II to help rebuild the country, and many have stayed.  Although it seems to me that the Turks who live here have mostly assimilated nicely, I do sense that some Germans view Turks like some Americans view Mexicans.  Some seem to resent and fear them.

Despite the concerns that people have about their way of life being challenged or changed, Germans remain welcoming to people who are in trouble and need shelter.  They don't always help with a sense of altruism, but they do seem to support being open minded and accepting people who are different.  I'm sure a lot of that comes from the not too distant past, when their country was in the grips of Naziism.  That blight on history remains a source of great shame to many Germans.

This week, Bill and "Timmy" were arguing and Bill, being a courteous and respectful person, tried to gently point out that Timmy's comments were narrow-minded and racist.  Timmy, being a rather black and white thinker, came back and accused Bill of playing "ring around the rosy" and not being direct with his comments.  So Bill asked Timmy some pointed yes or no questions.  After Timmy answered, having been backed into a corner, Bill came right out and said quite bluntly, "You have confirmed my suspicions that you are a xenophobe."

Well, Timmy's reaction to that comment was epic.  He went from calling Bill out for "being indirect" to being very offended that Bill came right out and accused him of xenophobia.  Within a couple of hours, Timmy was back with a book length comment refuting Bill's assertion that he's xenophobic.  It was similar to the reaction I got from Timmy's brother a few months ago...  I referred to "xenophobic ideas" and my cousin got very offended.  I hadn't even directly called him a "xenophobe", but he seemed to take my comments that way.  But, unlike Timmy's brother, Timmy kind of asked for Bill's comment.  He complained that Bill wasn't direct enough.  Well, be careful what you wish for.

Bill also called out Timmy for not voting Libertarian.  Timmy takes great pride in telling everyone that he's not a Republican.  He says he's a "constitutional Libertarian".  However, it's very clear that despite Timmy's insistence that he's a "constitutional Libertarian", he did not have the balls to vote for the Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.  Timmy wanted to cast his vote for someone with a chance of winning, even though he claims Donald Trump's politics don't actually align with his.  In short, Timmy is a massive hypocrite.

Bill and I did vote for Mr. Johnson, although we both knew he couldn't win.  I don't think either of us would call ourselves Libertarian per se.  We just felt Johnson was the strongest of the four presidential candidates.  He seemed the least narcissistic and most humane.  He has experience in politics and is not too extreme in his policies, although Libertarians as a rule tend to be more extreme.  Yes, Johnson had his "Aleppo moment", but at least he's somewhat sane.

I actually think Mrs. Clinton was technically the most qualified of the four presidential candidates, but she's had plenty of time in the sun.  I don't like political dynasties or scandals and I had a feeling Mrs. Clinton as president would invite plenty of scandals.  And also... when it came down to it, I knew it wouldn't matter if I voted for Johnson over Clinton because Mrs. Clinton won San Antonio and lost Texas.

My cousin, the self-proclaimed Libertarian, did not vote for Mr. Johnson because he knew Johnson couldn't win.  So, instead of voting for the party he claims his beliefs align with, he voted for Donald Trump, who is an incompetent criminal that brags about sexually assaulting women and has embarrassing meltdowns on Twitter on a daily basis.  And then Timmy has the gall to lecture me and Bill about why Trump will "make America great again."  Bill explained to Timmy that it's true that a third party candidate has almost no chance of becoming president.  However, as long as people will only vote for the one of the two candidates in the major political parties, those two parties will be the only realistic choices we have for leadership.  And we will be stuck with leaders who are dirty and, perhaps, not the best people for the job.

Timmy has also never been abroad.  He has admitted that he's never so much as crossed the Atlantic and had fish and chips in England.  I would be very surprised if he even owns a passport.  His worldview is shaped by his many years living in the southern United States among conservative white people.  I think he has a college degree and he has informed me that he used to sell insurance and was licensed to do so.  I am sure he's technically competent at whatever it is he does.  But he has a very limited perspective of the world.  He's never seen it and apparently hasn't actually interacted with the people he fears.  I would be very surprised if he even knows any Muslims.  Say what you want about my comments about Mormons, but you can't say I don't know any and haven't interacted with them.  In fact, I actually married one.

I suppose there's nothing necessarily "wrong" with staying in one place if that's what one prefers.  However, when a person stays in one place and does not mingle with those who aren't like them, he or she tends to have a narrow viewpoint.  People who don't travel often have very black and white thinking and lack the flexibility to consider other views.  And oftentimes, when you try to talk to the most rigid of people who don't see the need to travel, they come at you with bullying and condescension.

I will admit, I tend to shut down when I talk to people who communicate in that way.  Perhaps that makes me guilty of black and white thinking, too.  I stop hearing anyone who talks to me in a holier-than-thou, condescending tone.  Liberals have done it just as much as conservatives have.  If you want me to listen, you have to approach with a basic modicum of respect.  If you don't, I will put up a wall of my own and simply stop listening.

Anyway... after reading Timmy's latest arguments, Bill posted that he didn't think the discussion was productive.  Then he advised Timmy to get a passport and travel outside of the United States.  I have myself suggested the same thing to Timmy.  I honestly believe he would benefit from having his eyes opened to what life is like beyond the southern United States.  Maybe it wouldn't change his mind much, but I would like to think he might have more empathy toward people who aren't like him.  I truly believe that travel is deadly to racism and closed mindedness and I think Timmy could use a mental enema and an empathy check.

I doubt Timmy will take Bill's advice, which is a real pity.  Timmy thinks he's right and no amount of pointless discussion will change his mind.  He just wants to engage in intellectual masturbation on Facebook.  It's a sport for him.  Too bad.  This will make Thanksgiving with my extended family more awkward... if I ever deign to attend again.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Some of you who will be reading this post are going to consider it to be a lot of whining.  That's fine. Sometimes I am a very whiny person.  If you don't want to read a lot of whining about first world problems, you might want to move to your next station on the Internet with hopes of finding something more uplifting to read.  I'm in kind of a depressed mood today.

This morning got off to a bad start.  I woke up at 3:30am to the sound of soft whimpering that was barely audible over the sound of the fan Bill insists we run every night.  It was Zane.  He had started the night at the foot of the bed, but evidently decided he wanted to sleep in his purple dog bed.  For some reason, he didn't want to do that until I kicked Arran off the futon stationed behind the dog bed. So Arran got off the futon and came to our bed, snuggling between Bill and me.  But I was wide awake, so I checked my email and Facebook... a total no no.

Actually, there was nothing too inflammatory on Facebook or in my email.  In fact, I read about how two Democrats have filed an article of impeachment against Donald Trump.  Of course, I knew this was coming.  I also have doubts that it will go anywhere, since the fucking government is overrun with conservatives who refuse to see Trump for what he is-- an incompetent criminal who has no business being in the White House.  And even if he does get impeached, it doesn't mean he'll leave office... and if he leaves office, it means we'll be stuck with Pence and Ryan, who are also weird, horrible people who are hung up on religion.  They are sure to take the United States backwards.

So that thought depressed me a bit.  A couple of hours later, I woke up and tried to give Zane some allergy medication.  Maybe it's futile, but supposedly Benadryl helps keep mast cell tumors at bay.  I looked at the big lump on his hind leg that was supposedly diagnosed as a lipoma last summer.  I hate seeing it and the other lumps he's growing as he gets older.

I realize I'll lose him and it'll probably be to cancer.  Zane doesn't know about cancer, so he spits out half of his pill.  I try to get him to take it, but he refuses and I'm too annoyed to try to bribe him with another treat.

So I go upstairs and start stripping the sheets off the bed so I can wash them.  As I am stripping the bed, Zane jumps up on it, making the task harder.  I go downstairs to put the sheets in the washing machine and am confronted by a pile of fresh dog shit on my rug.

Arran, who is about seven years old, has taken yet another crap in the house, despite having been housetrained for years.  He's very weird about pooping, though, and will only do it on the leash if he's taking a walk.  Evidently, he needed to be walked before 6:30am.  What sucks about Arran's pooping habits is that he doesn't stand in one spot.  So there's not a neat pile, but several turds spread in an area next to the door.  Arran senses that he's displeased me, so he hangs his head.

I get dressed and walk the dogs.  That goes reasonably well, except it's often annoying to walk them because they either want to sniff everything or they want to take off, dragging me behind them.  Also, I'm still dealing with the remnants of my cold, so I'm coughing, sputtering, and hocking up mucus.  It's very classy.

I get the dogs in the house and try to dose them with Benadryl.  Zane actually needs the Benadryl more than Arran does, but I give him one a day because he has also had a mast cell tumor.  Arran usually takes his pill with no problem, but like Zane earlier this morning, he decided to spit his out.  I tried to dose him again, but like Zane, he's not interested.  So I say to them, "You know what?  Fuck it.  I don't give a shit."

Both dogs sense I'm annoyed, so they hang their heads while I wrestle the vacuum cleaner out of the pantry.  I hate vacuuming, but I always do it on Thursdays.  There's a lot of dog hair on the floor, but even if I vacuum with a lot of elbow grease, nothing gets really clean.  It feels futile.  I go into the room I made into a walk in closet of sorts.  There are little green plastic things all over the floor.  They are used to hold the tags on Bill's dry cleaning.  For some reason, instead of putting these things in the trash, he throws them on the floor.  I vacuum them up.

I finish the vacuuming, then check a thread I've been following on Cruise Critic's Luxury Cruises board.  I am a bit dismayed and somewhat flabbergasted by some of the snobs who take luxury cruises and post online.  Actually, reading some of the responses on the thread I've been following makes me feel shitty.  It's depressing that some people feel the need to run down other people's opinions, especially on a subject like luxury cruising.

I recently unfriended my cousin and a couple of other relatives on Facebook.  Bill is still friends with my cousin, though, and they have been engaged in a disagreement on my cousin's page.  It makes me sad to hear Bill try to reason with my relative, only to be confronted by his ignorance coupled with condescension and xenophobic tendencies.  As badly I have often felt for not "measuring up" to some family members' expectations, I'm beginning to think that maybe some of my relatives are simply assholes.  And that makes me feel worse.  Here's why...

A few days ago, I wrote about an online friend of mine who was battling breast cancer.  She's a mother of three, has a loving husband, a job, and lots of friends.  She got treated for her cancer, but it's come back with a vengeance and has now spread to her lungs, ribs, and liver.  I don't know what her prognosis is, but she posted the other day that she's had a fever for forty days and feels terrible.  She is currently in the hospital getting chemotherapy.  My guess, based only on what I know about cancer, is that she may not be with us much longer.

I think about that woman and the fact that when she's gone, people will mourn for her.  She has lived a life that means something to others.  She has children who need her and others in her life who love her.

I don't feel like I matter much to most people.  I know I matter to Bill, but if I were to die tomorrow, he'd be alright.  I doubt many of my family members would ultimately care that much if I died.  A lot of them don't even seem to like me, let alone love me.  And, as much as I know Bill loves me, I feel like a burden to him.  I also feel like I came in and crapped on his family.  Yes, I know that he needed an ally to help him learn to stand up for himself.  But I know that people in his family blame me for the fact that his kids have been estranged.  They blame me for not trusting his kids and loving them "unconditionally", even though that's not a very fair expectation of me.  After all, I have only met them once and that was years ago.

I'm getting older and I feel like nothing I've done matters much... and I'm not sure what I can do to matter more.  I waste a lot of time and energy... and every day, it just seems like the world is a shittier place to be.

I have suffered from clinical depression before.  Maybe I'm starting to become depressed again.  I don't know.  I'd like to get away for a couple of days without my dogs, but it's hard to do that.  I know these are first world problems and a lot of people would scold me for voicing them.  I'm being honest, though.  They are getting me down.  I just feel annoyed, hopeless, sad, and fed up.  And when I see a friend who is much needed and loved struck down with cancer while I'm useless and healthy, it makes me feel even more depressed.

So I'm sorry for those of you who are reading this drivel and think it sucks.  I know it sucks.  I know I suck.  I'm pretty useless.  And I know that if I write about this on a place like RfM, I'll get responses from Pollyanna types like SusieQ#1.  I just can't take that today.  So, I guess I'll take a deep breath and make the bed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The difference between pork and eggs...

I don't remember where I first read it, but this morning, I was reminded of a business fable involving chickens and pigs.  It goes something like this:

A pig and a chicken were walking together one day when the chicken said, "Hey, why don't we open a restaurant?"

The pig asked, "What would we serve?"

"How about bacon and eggs?" the chicken replied.

The pig thought about it for a moment and said, "No thanks.  I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved."

The story was intended to point out the difference in the commitment levels of the people involved in a business.  I was reminded of it because of an article I read yesterday about Sweden's decision to stop offering aid to "organizations yielding to an anti-abortion 'gag rule' which demands that health groups funded by the United States do not provide information about abortion."  I shared the article on Facebook with this comment.

I'm sick of men thinking they have the right to control when a woman gives birth.

That comment got a lot of "amens" in the form of likes.  But then another one of my male friends piped up with this...

I didn't actually see this comment until I woke up this morning because it was posted by a friend in the United States.  He ended up getting into an argument with one of my liberal feminist friends who has a tendency to be passionate about women's rights.  I'm not going to post their exchange because I wasn't involved in it.  What I will post is my response to the above comment.

I really hate it when a man answers the question about whether or not abortion should be outlawed with crap about having to pay child support.  To me, it's akin to the whole bacon and eggs anecdote.  There is an enormous difference between a man having to pay child support for a child he fathered and a woman having to give up a part of her body for the nine months it takes to make a baby.  Women can and do die in pregnancy or childbirth.  It's her health and her body on the line.  

A man's involvement in a pregnancy ends after he ejaculates.  He has the ability to literally walk away after his sperm has successfully fertilized the woman's egg.  A pregnant woman, on the other hand, can't walk away from that process if she intends to give birth.  When it comes to making babies, a woman is absolutely committed, just like a pig is committed when it's time to make bacon or sausage.

I do realize that it sucks when a man impregnates a woman and he actually wants the child; but the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy.  However, I cannot support forcing a woman to be pregnant, especially since she is the one who has to endure being pregnant and everything that comes with it.  

And honestly, a man who really resents having to financially support a woman he has impregnated should probably invest in a rubber vagina or something. Don't have unprotected sex with a fertile woman if you're not prepared to raise a child with her.  To me, it's as simple as that.  And before anyone gives me a ration of shit about this, let me remind my readers that I've actually practiced what I'm preaching.  I did not have intercourse until two weeks after my wedding day.  Granted, because I waited for sex, I missed out on the chance to have a baby the natural way.  However, to me, it was the responsible thing to do and I survived it just fine.  So did Bill.

Now, I know the vast majority of people are not going to do what I did.  Lots of young people have sex simply because it's fun for them.  In that case, both parties should be absolutely prepared to be responsible.  If you're a woman having sex for fun, use birth control.  If you're a man who doesn't want to be a father, use birth control.  It's very simple.  Sometimes shit happens and the woman gets pregnant anyway.  That is a risk, of course.  Just about every action carries with it a risk, though.  If you're an adult, you prepare for that risk and you don't try to force someone else to clean up your mess.

I really don't understand why men counter with arguments about being forced to pay child support as a reason why they should have a right to force women to stay pregnant.  If you are that disgusted by women who try to "trap" men with pregnancy, why would you be against abortion?  If you find women who stoop to such tactics that despicable, wouldn't it be better if she could elect to terminate the pregnancy so the two of you could go your separate ways?

I do think it's best when fathers man up and are fully involved with and responsible for their children.  However, I also understand that some men have sex with women they don't actually want to be with.  I know there are manipulative people out there and I do think there should be an "out" for either party in those circumstances.  Ultimately, what it really comes down to is being very careful and selective with whom you share your DNA.  If you don't want to be a parent, don't have unprotected sex.  It's very, very simple.  And ideally, you should actually know and at least like your partner before you consent to bumping uglies with them.  Common sense, right?  Too bad more people don't have any.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Want to look tiny?

Stand between two big guys.

This picture was taken in 1994.  I was 22 years old.

The funny thing is, back then, I thought I was hideously fat.  I actually was (and still am) overweight.  But standing between two very large men has a way of altering one's perceptions.  I love this picture because it makes me look petite.  The guy in the burgundy shirt used to be able to lift me up like a sack of potatoes and carry me.  He often did, too.  There was a lot of frustration at the summer camp where we were working at the time.  

I wasn't dating anyone back then and wouldn't for another six years or so.  Was I really that unappealing to the opposite sex?  Maybe it was my obnoxious personality.

Speaking of people who are obnoxious, I finally had to unfriend my cousin last night.  Lately, he's been making inflammatory comments on my Facebook page to the point at which I was starting to cringe whenever I saw his name.  That, in and of itself, is generally not enough to make me unfriend someone, especially when it's a family member.  I maintain patience for a long time with irritating people, although I find as I get older, my fuse gets shorter.

He also started engaging Bill in debates.  Again... not really my business.  I wouldn't have dumped him for that.  

No... what finally drove me to remove my cousin from my friends list was his advertising for a crowdfunding campaign to build Trump's wall.  He posted a link with the declaration that he had given $100 for this project, which the creator hoped would be fully funded by Labor Day.  I decided that the stupid was just way too strong and I had to remove myself.

First off, I think building a massive wall between Mexico and the United States is a ridiculous and ultimately futile idea.  It's not as if there aren't other ways for people to enter the country illegally.  Moreover, it smacks of the Soviet era, where people were kept in or out of the country by huge fences.  Wasn't it a Republican named Ronald Reagan who implored Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall?  Haven't we learned anything from that?  


Historic words.

Secondly, I think the wall will be much too expensive to build and maintain.  We have many citizens in the United States whose basic needs are not being met.  I think it's much more important to help Americans meet their basic needs than build a fucking wall that will waste resources.  I am less worried about illegal immigrants than I am regular people who are not getting by.  A wall is not going to help Americans get by.

Thirdly, I think if Trump wants a fucking wall, he should be the one to fund it.  Crowdsourcing funding for a wall proposed by a multibillionaire president-- one who insisted the Mexicans were going to pay for it-- is just plain stupidity.  If you want to donate money for such a ridiculous cause, I can't sit by and watch it.  Crowdfunding has become the go to method for paying for major things.  Hell... people are having to crowdfund medical care and housing costs.  I would much rather see people donate money to causes that will help real people and not a megalomaniacal orange man with the mentality of a toddler.  

And finally... I am offended by xenophobia and racist attitudes.  I think the wall promotes those things.  It's bad enough right now that brown people are being stopped and interrogated about who they are and whether or not they "belong" in the United States.  You know what?  That's not unlike Germany in the 1930s and 40s, when Jews were harassed and ultimately rounded up and murdered.  Besides... the vast majority of Americans sprang from immigrants.  We are citizens of the world and we should be cooperating and trying to work together rather than dividing into "us" and "them" camps.

Bottom line--  I can't tell you how to spend your money.  I can't tell you for whom to vote.  I don't want to stifle healthy debate.  But if you repeatedly show me that you're a dipshit, I am going to lose patience eventually.  I finally ran out of patience dealing with my cousin, so I had to remove him from my social media sphere.

Actually, lately I have unfriended a few family members... people who make me feel like I don't belong with my own kin.  I recently dropped a once favorite aunt because she's been treating me with silent disdain for about fifteen years and I got tired of it.  I'd see her be active on everybody's feeds, but she never had anything to say to me.  In fact, even when I last saw her, back in 2014, she barely spoke to me.  So, I figure it's time I quit worrying about her.  I think I may start doing the unfriending thing more often.  Life is much too short for such angst.
I'm really not asking for a "safe space"... it's more a respect space.  You can be in my space if you have basic respect for me.  Otherwise, get lost.  Sheesh... it makes me very sad, but last night I was thinking that I might not visit my family again.  I just don't know that I can take it... and frankly, I just don't feel like I belong anymore.  It's a shame, because I used to have so much love and respect for them.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The stench of asshole can be very pungent...

By now, I'm sure a lot of readers have heard about plus sized model Natalie Hage, who recently shamed a man sitting next to her on an airplane for posting nasty comments about her on his cellphone.  I heard about this story last week because it was all over the news.  Many people think this kind of a story should not be news, especially "fat shamers" who think they have the right to insult anyone who doesn't fit their definition of "healthy".

In any case, if you haven't come across the story yet, here's a brief rundown.  Hage had purchased a seat in the exit row because she wanted extra leg room.  She ended up being placed in the dreaded middle seat, with two guys sitting on either side of her.

It's often said that the majority of communication is non-verbal.  That's certainly true in this case.  The guy in the window seat made a big non-verbal show about how disgusted he was to be sitting next to Hage.  The guy on the aisle seat laughed when Hage asked if he would switch places with her.  Frankly, I don't blame him for not wanting the middle seat, though I hate that he was evidently rude about it.  So there Hage was, stuck in the middle between two apparent assholes.  Poor thing.  It probably stank to high heaven.

If you've been in economy seating on an airplane recently, you know that there's not a lot of personal space.  If you are a large person, there's even less space.  Hage is large.  She doesn't deny it.

After settling in her seat, she noticed the man next to her furiously texting and trying to surreptitiously take pictures of her.  She managed to peek at what he was typing and it turned out he was posting nasty comments about her.  Hage took a photo of her own of the man's shitty comments.  Later, she confronted him about his nasty behavior and even got the dressing down on video.

Last night, George Takei shared a post on Facebook about this situation.  I made the mistake of reading the comments.  Many people were defending the guy who was making the rude comments, saying that Hage invaded his privacy.  I agree that Hage invaded the guy's privacy.  However, it seems to me that if you are on an airplane in economy class, you should be aware that there really isn't any privacy.  There's literally no room for that, no matter what size you are.  

Sitting next to an obese person on an airplane is uncomfortable and unpleasant for most people.  I can understand why the man sitting next to Hage was annoyed about the situation.  I just wonder why he wasn't able to control himself.   Wasn't he given any home training as a child?  Maybe it was wrong for Hage to publicly out him as an abusive jerk, but in my mind, he asked for it.  He fired the first shot, as it were.  All he really needed to do was sit quietly and get through the flight.  Then later, if he still needed to vent, he could have done so in actual privacy.  I'm not saying I would have approved of his comments, but at least he wouldn't have put himself in the position of being publicly shamed.  I really have zero sympathy for that guy because despite his superior attitude about Hage's size, his shit stinks pretty badly.  The stench of asshole is pervasive, especially on an airplane.

Hage may have invaded the man's privacy by reading and photographing his hateful texts, but I would submit that the guy invaded Hage's privacy first by texting about her.  Was it really so urgent for him to let his friends know about the fat lady sitting next to him on the plane?  Couldn't it have waited until later?  Maybe by then he might have... I don't know... gotten over the temporary inconvenience of sitting next to her?  Maybe he might not have felt the need to spread his nastiness to uninvolved people?  Maybe he wouldn't have been caught being a horrible person who was outed on the news?  I'm sure he never meant for this unfortunate aspect of his personality to be revealed to the world.

What is especially tragic to me, though, are the sheer numbers of people who feel it's okay to denigrate strangers simply due to the way they look.  Yes, I know that many people get fat because they eat too much and don't exercise enough.  A lot of people think that's a valid reason to be nasty to perfect strangers-- they think it's fine to pass a moral judgment.  However, sometimes there are other things at play that cause a person to be heavy.  There's really no way to know why someone looks the way they do unless you happen to know them personally.  I don't understand why so many people feel it's appropriate to be outwardly horrible to someone simply due to their size.  I wonder if these folks have any souls whatsoever... any ability to be empathetic and kind.  The comments on Takei's post were just full of fat shaming vitriol, which I find very sad.

I have experienced the same kind of hostility Hage did.  Over the course of a week during the summer of 2009, I took several bus tours through Edelweiss Lodge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  Because I was traveling alone, several different people sat next to me, all of them strangers.  One day, I sat next to a very large woman.  I am myself a lot larger than I'd like to be, but she actually dwarfed me.  It was hot and somewhat uncomfortable, although she did introduce me to a handy lever that allowed us to move the seats horizontally a couple of inches, which made things more bearable.  As the day passed, I ended up talking to her and she was a pretty nice person.  By the time the tour was over, I had much more positive feelings about sitting next to her.

Later that week, I sat next to a guy who was obviously military.  His hair was long enough that he might have been retired, although he didn't look old enough to be retired.  He was vacationing with his family.  Due to his failure to plan properly, he arrived too late to sit with them.  He got stuck sitting by me because the empty spot next to me was the last one left.  Although he didn't say anything to me (at all, actually), I did notice his body language.  I could tell that he found me repulsive, for whatever reason.  And... you know... I couldn't help but return the sentiment.  The stench of asshole was very pungent in that guy.  I wondered why he bothered to take the bus tour, since it was clear he'd rather be driving in the comfort and privacy of a car where he could be with people more to his liking.  I wondered if he realized that, as obviously horrified he was to have to sit next to me, I was equally mortified to have to sit next to someone who had so little self control over his boorish behavior and was oblivious to the smell of his own bad conduct.

That guy didn't know that I have a husband who adores me and friends who appreciate me.  Hell, even some of my family members like me.  He didn't know that I have a pretty singing voice and a good sense of humor.  All he saw was my outer appearance, which was, without a doubt, not to his approval.  All I saw was the disgusted expression on his face, his rigid and uncomfortable posture, and the fact that he was late getting to the bus, so he had to endure sitting next to someone who clearly disgusted him.  And because my husband was in a conference and couldn't travel with me, I had to endure the unpleasant stench of his asshole behavior.  I would say that was a lose lose situation for both of us.  The difference is, I got to the bus early and didn't impose my negativity on someone else.  

I did notice during that day that the guy was kind to children.  A little boy was trying to climb into the bus and he was nice to him, helped him out, and even called him "buddy."  But to me, he was very hostile and outwardly rude.  He didn't even know me and obviously didn't want to know me.  At least he didn't sit in his seat and obviously text nasty comments about me to his friends and family.  Maybe he would have if he'd had access to the technology.  I wonder how he would have reacted if I had asked him if he had a problem.  What if I'd simply started crying softly?  Would he have softened up, or would he have been even more obviously hostile?

Maybe he felt I should just sat there in shame, sorry that I was ever born because some strange guy on a bus was so chilly to me.  You know, I could have lost a lot of weight prior to that bus trip and that guy still might have found me utterly repulsive.  There's no way to tell what size is appropriate to every other person on the planet and it's impossible to please everyone.  Too many people think it's perfectly fine to be mean to others whose situation they don't even know.  Too many people think their opinions about another person's body are important enough to share with others.

Count me among those who think egregious fat shamers deserve to be publicly humiliated when they act like horrible people.  Seriously... fuck that guy who sat next to Natalie Hage and the guy who sat next to me.  The guy on the airplane had no sense of decency or self control and he got exactly what he deserved.  And, you know, I think it would be poetic justice if someday, his body balloons and he has to put up with shitty behavior from "normal" sized people who think they have the right to comment on his appearance or, even worse, his health.  Good for Natalie for taking back her power.  I hope that guy and other would be shamers learned something from this story.  Obesity may be unhealthy and unattractive, but it's obviously not going away despite our best efforts.  If you act like a jerk, you might just find yourself publicly called out for your bad behavior.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Another day, another Duggar... and other assorted bullshit

So, today I read that Jill Duggar Dillard, mother of Izzy and wife of Derick, has finally had her second son, Samuel Scott Dillard.  First off, let me say that I'm delighted that Jill and Derick chose a rather normal name for their second child.  Secondly, I've seen pictures of the boy and he's a biggun.  According to a post by his daddy, Sam weighed 9 pounds 10 ounces.  I thought he was big by his picture.  Then I remembered that I weighed 9 pounds 13 ounces when I was born and I did not emerge from the womb via C-section, as Sam did (after Jill labored for 40 hours).

There's not much else reported about the latest Duggar grandson.  He looks to be big, healthy, and basically fine.  I think it's nuts to labor for that long and then have a C-section, but what the hell do I know about childbirth?  I guess I'm just glad it wasn't me going through it.

Right after I read about Sam's birth, I read about a guy who was in the middle of being arrested when he decided to propose to his girlfriend.  Brandon Thompson of Muskogee, Oklahoma was being arrested on July 4th and was already handcuffed when he decided he wanted to pop the question to Leandria Keith.  The cops graciously moved his cuffed hands to the front so he could present the lady with an engagement ring.  The "romantic" scene was captured by a body camera as Thompson's family, who had been celebrating Independence Day and Thompson's birthday, looked on.

Thompson was being arrested on several felony warrants, so it may be some time before he and his betrothed are able to wed.  However, Keith was able to cobble together enough money to bail her fiance out of the clink.  Thompson has been doing a lot to turn his life around, so who knows?  Maybe this will be the start of a new way of life.  One can only hope.

Today is the third anniversary of my father's death.  I don't feel too sad about it.  I remember that he was in a lot of pain at the end of his life and it was heartbreaking to see him suffering.  But I do remember him now on the day he died.  July 2014 was an absolutely horrible month.

Last night, Bill and I went to a party.  The guy throwing it is someone Bill worked with the last time we lived in Germany.  I don't know him well, although we did attend a Lyle Lovett concert with him back in March 2009.  He grilled all kinds of meat-- it was a very impressive spread.  He had chicken, pork, beef, and lamb, as well as lots of good beer and side dishes.  Bill and I spent the evening trading stories with a couple of his soon to be former co-workers.  Oh... and I also got recognized a couple of times by people who read my travel blog and have seen Bill's face in every post.  He's become the local "face" of my travel blog.

It's pretty funny when readers find out who I am.  It gives me a taste of what it must be like to be famous.  It's kind of gratifying, too, since people actually read and apparently enjoy the blog.  I'm not stupid, though.  I know that a main reason it gets read is because there are a lot of bored people around here with not much else to do.  Indeed, boredom is the main reason why I write these blog posts.  It keeps me busy and gives me a place to express the many thoughts running through my head at any given moment.

Someone asked me last night if I planned to blog about last night's party.  I hadn't planned to, because I didn't think many people would be interested.  But now that I think about it, maybe I will write something about last night's gathering.  Why the hell not?  It beats bitching about people.

I was a big baby, too.